Thursday, December 3, 2015

What to Say After Yet Another Mass Shooting

Another week, another shooting.  I have absolutely nothing to say.

No, impossible.  I have plenty to say.  Begin again.

We will hear the angry cries for more gun control.  But we have stricter gun laws than we did in the 80's and 90's, and still we see almost daily mass shootings.  I went to a high school in the U.S. south where people drove to school in their trucks that had gun racks with rifles--in the early 1980's.  We didn't shoot each other in those days when it would have been much easier to do so.  What has changed?

We will hear more calls for access to mental health services.  Lately, I've begun to think that we should all be assigned a counselor at birth--let our taxes pay for that.  But access to good health care that includes the mental health component seems to make no difference--how do we get the mentally ill to access the help they need?

Some of us may arm ourselves.  But those guns can feel like an additional relationship--you can't just have a gun.  You really should do some target practice several times a month--yet another commitment of time and money.

Some of us may have started to feel a bit numb.  We're convinced we can do nothing.  But that's a sure recipe for disaster.  We don't want to let ourselves go numb.  All too soon, we'll be numb to everything:  the good, the bad, the ecstatic, the despair.  We sacrifice the good emotions along with the ones that make us uncomfortable.

Others of us may look for the exits whenever we enter a room--always a good practice.  If you want other good practices, this article gives advice that seems solid to me.

I think of all the statistically rare situations for which I have mentally prepared:  active shooter situations, the mushroom cloud rising on the horizon, a chance encounter with a murderer or rapist.  For several years, I had a case of water in my trunk, and to this day, I keep a stash of water and food in my office.  If there's an emergency, and I can't leave the building for several days or weeks, I won't starve until the oatmeal runs out.

We are in more daily danger from our cars--and the cars of others--than we are from guns or terrorists or failed foreign policies.  It's important to keep some perspective.

But of course, it's important to always keep before us a vision of the world we want to live in.  I want to live in a world where we can go to holiday parties without the fear that our colleagues will get angry, go home to put on their flak jackets, and return with military weapons to kill us all.

And I want so much more than that.

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